WORLD CUP: Offside

Japan’s Murai out

TOKYO: Jubilo Iwata midfielder Shinji Murai’s FIFA World Cup dream ended on Thursday as team officials said he needed six months to recover from a knee injury he suffered in a friendly match against Bulgaria this week.

Murai hurt his right knee and was stretchered off during the match in the three-nation Kirin Cup tournament. It was Murai’s fifth match for the national side. Iwata officials said Thursday he would need six months to recover.

Japan coach Zico will announce his 23-player squad on Monday.

Henry favours England

LONDON: French international Thierry Henry, who will spearhead his country’s assault on the World Cup, ferevently hopes that England will one day add to their lone world title triumph of 1966. Henry was speaking after receiving the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year Award on Thursday. “I really hope that you can have another 1966 happen to you. I see the passion you have here for your national team and how much you want them to win,” said the Arsenal striker.

Tunisia invite Iraq

Schweinfurt: FIFA World Cup finalists Tunisia have invited Iraq to be their opponents in a final warm-up friendly in Germany on 7 June, replacing Kuwait who have pulled out, said Tunisia Football Federation officials. Kuwait said they could not raise a team for the game, scheduled for Tunisia’s German base at Schweinfurt. Tunisia will play in Group H against Saudi Arabia, Spain and Ukraine at the Germany 2006 finals.